Graduate Profile


Lizzy Johnston BSc 1999

Lizzy is pictured here during her time as a student, helping local children solder together "electronic bagpipes" as part of a Science Week event in our School.

Having started a physics degree because it was the subject I loved at school, I felt disappointed when it flew by and finished so quickly.  I had not really thought about using it directly in the work place, as I thought to do this you had to stay either in academia or go to a research institution.   I even surprised myself by accepting a job with British Energy, working on the thermal hydraulic analysis of the reactor cores in their nuclear power stations.  Now I use my knowledge from my Thermal and Statistical lectures every day, working on problems with fuel pins and coolant flow.

Although my degree gave me the technical knowledge to start my job, being at St Andrews also gave me a wide range of social and transferable skills.  Confidence from giving presentations on physics topics at the final year trip to the Burn and having to present my final year project stood me in good stead for having to talk in interviews.   Organising the physics ball and being deputy senior student in my hall of residence gave me a lot of experience in organising and managing people and events.  Playing lacrosse for the university shoed I could work in a team, and being president of the Tunnocks Caramel Wafer Appreciation Society certainly gave me something exciting to talk about!

The learning does not stop after you leave university either.  I have been on a heat transfer course to enhance my understanding from my degree, focusing on my field of work, as well as courses on how to use computational fluid dynamics codes for the computer.  For the last two months I have been on secondment to Sizewell Power Station, to monitor rhe reloading of the nuclear fuel.  I even attended a team building course for a week in Dartmoor, which was great fun as well as hard work, and also involved getting very muddy while caving.

St Andrews, the best years of my life so far - definitely - I am just sad they are over.

Written a few years back:  I am a 3rd year currently studying for a BSc Physics Degree at St. Andrews. One of the best things about being here is the size of the department, it's small and friendly so if you have any problems there is always some one to go to. The course is interesting and varied in subject matter so you gain a strong base for any future work in physics. We study all sorts of things from established theories right up to things that are at the forefront of science. As well as attending lectures we also go to laboratory sessions which cover aspects of laboratory technique and could lead to a job in the department over the holidays. I edit the School’s student newsletter and stand on the student staff council - students actually do get a say in what goes on, and there’s always a chance to help. The picture shows me helping out at the SET98 science week event, helping youngsters solder together electronic bagpipes!

Last updated 5.02.04 BDS